By Dave Leaderhouse
Two goals less than three minutes apart early in the third period of Thursday’s quarter-final game against Canada Red ended Yorkton Terrier netminder Nolan Maier’s bid for a gold medal at the 2017 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge currently being played in northern B.C.
The 16-year-old Maier has been the workhorse in the Canada Black goal at the week-long event having gotten the start in three of the four games his club has played, but now all that is left is a seventh-place game against winless Sweden on Friday to complete his first experience of representing his country at an international event.
Maier began the week with a brilliant 28-save shutout in a 1-0 triumph over Canada White and after his netminding partner, Roman Basran, also posted a perfect game in a 5-0 victory over the Czech Republic, the reins were handed over to Maier the rest of the way.
Maier, the lone Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League player competing in the event, stopped 43 of 48 shots in a 5-4 setback to the United States in the final preliminary round-robin game and then on Thursday he turned aside 29 of 33 in the disheartening 4-3 loss to Canada Red.
It is unclear if Maier will get one final start in the game against Sweden on Friday, but regardless if he does or not it has been a tremendous showing by the rookie Yorkton netminder.
Other games on Friday have Russia facing Finland for fifth place while Canada Red meets the Czech Republic in one semi-final with the United States squaring off against Canada White in the other match-up to determine the gold-medal finalists.
Maier has appeared in seven games with the struggling Terriers this season and despite having just a 1-5-0-0 record his play from a summer camp garnered him a position amongst Canada’s elite under-17 players. He certainly hasn’t disappointed anyone with his play this week.